Orthodox Daily Devotional January 6 – 12
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10)
**Taken from reflections
A new year has begun but if the only change that takes place is putting up a new calendar then there is a greatly missed opportunity. We should have reflected on the highlights of last year, including our actions and attitudes when putting up a new calendar. Few people search to find the same calendar and pictures for the new calendar but rather want something different. Similarly we should want to improve so that in 12 months we can look back and see a ‘better person’ than we did the previous year. To do this we must allow Christ to work in us to create a new image of ourselves…we can’t do it alone. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor 5:17)
The familiar parable of the sower teaches us that we need to be ‘good ground’ for the seed of the Word, Christ, to grown. Good ground isn’t natural and requires work just as making our soul receptive to the Grace of God. How is this done? Attending church and taking communion is first and most important. It takes time and discipline to ‘get up and go’ to church when we could just stay at home and read the Bible or read a sermon from a Church Father. What does the church have that our homes don’t? The ‘real presence’ of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine which are the body and blood of Christ. We literally honor Christ ‘in person’ when we attend church. We literally receive Grace in the most concentrated form when we take communion. Again, we can’t do that on our own at home and this is by design: Christ wants His body, the church, to come together so just like stores that offer unique ‘special purchase’ items that you can only get from them if you come and shop there in person we can only interact fully with Christ, spiritually and physically, if we attend church. “ And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10)
Perhaps the greatest sin of the modern age is ingratitude. Most people don’t deny God as atheists, they just ignore Him as much as possible. They live their lives like hamsters in a cage busily working on things in their little world while ignoring their master who is watching them and who makes their ‘little world’ possible. How can we show gratitude to God? Crossing ourselves and saying something like ‘Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me’ when we get up starts the day with gratitude because we have recognized our ‘master’ as the first thing we do each day. Other prayers, which includes ‘talking’ with God, show that we are not ignoring Him. Bible reading and church attendance are further ways of showing thanks. Giving money to God through the Church is a concrete way of gratitude and shows that we are using what He has given us in the way He asks. If we don’t give to God, circumstances will ‘take’ the 10% (just like locusts eating grain) and more but we won’t gain any ‘credit’ for it because it wasn’t given willingly. ”
“Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field…” (Malachi 3)
The only thing modern man ignores more than God is death. Funerals and surrounding events are spent thinking and talking about what others are wearing, family issues, general gossip, preparing the arrangements and food…anything but the reality of death. The person will shortly face judgement and His relationship with Christ along with the way he or she responded to it…by keeping the commandments and striving daily to be more like Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit…will determine where he will be for eternity. Its like going on vacation and focusing entirely on the car ride rather than what’s going to happen when the destination is reached. Orthodox saints and elders always emphasize the need to keep the ‘remembrance of death’ in mind. The Catholic Church in the past has also emphasized this with St John Bosco having a month ‘Preparation for a Happy Death’ where the young people spent a day preparing themselves as if it was their last. The thought of death is like a cultist who comes to our door distracting us a few seconds until we close the door sending the annoyance on the way. The reality of death doesn’t ring a door bell…it just comes in and it doesn’t leave.
“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” (Jams 2:24)
Most people put money away in the bank in case there is an unforeseen need. Insurance serves a similar need. Drivers keep their foot ready to hit the brakes if something unexpected happens. We set a clock to get us up so we don’t oversleep and lose our job. We set a timer to check food that is cooking so it won’t burn or start a fire. We make sure we record TV shows that are on so we don’t miss them. People do all sorts of planning and spend money to attend a sporting event that is held on a particular day. In other words, we prepare for things in life that we know will happen and for things that happen unexpectedly. Death is a certainty…have you prepared for that? If not, why?
“The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16)
Every product from a small flashlight to a car has instructions. These are not written to make things unnecessarily complex but because the creator or maker of the product knows its limits. You can jump in a lake with a flashlight to help you see the bottom but it will stop working because you can’t get it wet. You can never change the oil in the car but eventually it will stop lubricating the engine and it will be ruined. You can ignore admonitions to brush your teeth well but eventually a painful cavity or expensive root canal will occur. The same goes with God’s instructions to us in the Bible. Many people today think that sex is a type of recreation with no restrictions ignoring God’s teaching on marriage. Abortion, killing, is viewed as a woman’s choice. Cheating purposely on taxes, stealing, is just being clever. The list goes on. However, just as with physical products ignoring the spiritual instruction manual eventually has negative consequences that we don’t see at first but which have eternal consequences.
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”: (Revelation 20:12)